Stagnant air causes unhealthy pollution levels in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

"That's because of lingering high pressure and very stagnant atmosphere so that's allowed the particulates to build up and not go anywhere," Janelle Schneider of the Central Valley Air Pollution Control District said.

The problem is particulate matter or PM. Climatologist Errol Villegas says the levels of those tiny particles are on the rise.

"So throughout this episode, this stagnation period we are seeing increased levels of both PM 10 and PM 2.5. It's associated with wood smoke, with dust, with the chemical composition in the air that contains this 2.5," Villegas said.

The larger parts of PM can lodge in your lungs, the smaller parts of PM can go from your lungs right into your bloodstream. That is why allergist Dr. A. M. Aminian said it is best to avoid breathing the outside air.

"It is not a healthy air for people with respiratory problems, children, elderly or anybody," Dr. Aminian said.

It's not unusual for bad air to settle in this time of year. But things are worse this year. So far there have been 19 no burn days, as compared to 12 this time last year. The no burn days are issued to keep folks from using fireplaces. Schneider says it's important they follow the rules.

"When people continue to burn and we have conditions like this it just exacerbates the problem and everybody suffers," Schneider said.

Some of the air problems this week started last week, when low overnight temperatures prompted increased use of fireplaces.

The forecast calls for a change in the weather by Thursday. The change could blow some of the pollutants out of the Valley. Until then the forecast calls for Unhealthy conditions to remain. Meaning everyone should avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

In addition, following the ban on burning is mandatory, and if motorists can reduce the amount of driving they do this week it could help clear the air.

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